Much was expected out of the wide receiver, but a number of setbacks hindered him in a major way. Royal suffered a groin injury on the very first day of training camp and ended up battling several ailments all season long. As if the injuries weren’t enough, his mother fell ill, forcing him to make numerous trips home to be by her side.
“It was not the kind of year I wanted to come and have my first year,” he said. “It was interesting to say the least. But I learned a lot from it and I think that is the key. I was looking forward to this training camp to be back out there with the guys in the huddle. I missed that. So I’m happy that I’m healthy and hopefully I can stay that way.”
In 2012, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound receiver appeared in 10 games and recorded 23 catches for 235 yards and one touchdown. But like Royal said, he’s not focusing on the past, and as a result has had a strong start to training camp. He routinely makes plays eliciting cheers from the crowd and is showing the form that made him a dangerous weapon during his years with the Denver Broncos.
“It’s great to be making plays, but I’m not getting ahead of myself,” Royal said. “At the end of the day you want to be doing them in games. So it’s nice to have some momentum, but you have to carry it over into the games.”
In addition to being healthy and having his personal issues resolved, Royal is having a strong camp because he is more comfortable in the offense.
“I feel more comfortable this year being in the huddle with some familiar guys,” he said. “I now know what to expect from Philip (Rivers) and Charlie (Whitehurst), so that makes it easier. But overall I think what’s key is being comfortable with the guys in the huddle. It’s been good so far.”
Another reason Royal is comfortable is the arrival of head coach Mike McCoy, who served as his offensive coordinator while with the Broncos.
“It’s good to be back with him,” he said. “Some of the words that I hear in the meetings and in the huddle are kind of similar and I can revert back and remember a few things. So I have a leg up on that. I know what to expect out of him. He’s a great coach. He’s kind of similar to how he was as offensive coordinator. He’s just always going to be him. He’s got a good presence about him and he’s got a lot of confidence to him, which rubs off on the player. When we are confident in the coach, and he is confident in the guys, you’ve got to feel good about the team we have.”
The Chargers certainly have to feel good about what they’ve seen from Royal early on in camp.